Golden Bandicoot 

By Tara Ravens

NORTHERN Australia is facing a fresh wave of potentially catastrophic mammal extinctions, experts warn.

Australia has the worst mammal extinction record in the world, with 22 mammals becoming extinct in the last 200 years.

Scientists now say the evidence suggests Australia is on the cusp of another wave.

Over 40 scientists and land managers met in Darwin last week for a two-day meeting to discuss their research into "critical" regional extinctions across the country's north.

"What we are seeing is a reduction both in the abundance of mammals but also for some species really catastrophic declines across their range," said Sarah Legge, from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

"They've shrunk down to 10 per cent of their former distribution (and) the frightening thing about it is the rate at which it's happening.

"Some species have already disappeared from more than 90 per cent of their past range across the north."

Dr Legge said about 1500 animals and plants were currently threatened with extinction in Australia, and "critical declines" had been noted on pastoral and indigenous lands, as well as national parks.

Among the species at risk are the Northern Quoll, Golden Bandicoot and Bilby.

"(They) are all declining, and doing so very rapidly," said Dr Legge. “This is undoubtedly one of the major biodiversity conservation issues affecting Australia.

"It would be heart-breaking and internationally embarrassing if we were to stand aside and witness another wave of extinctions."

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